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Columns

Japan Angler

By Abdel Ibrahim

A ‘Coldy’ but ‘Goody’

2010
ISSUE
32
Usually I don’t go for this sort of thing. The forecast said we’d be getting rain all day, the north wind was going to gust, and the temperature wasn’t going to rise above 10 degrees. Normally, I’d loose much needed sleep wishing I could opt out of my charter when the weather is behaving so badly. Not this time.
I knew I’d soon be busy rustling with some feisty sea bass which were fattening up on the shallow north end of Tokyo Bay, as they do every late autumn, before heading south to spawn. 
My non-fisherman friends have come to know me as a guy who endures just about anything to get, what I’ve explained to them, a particular endorphin fix that only comes via the tug of a fish on the end of my line.  There’s one exception.
Cold weather, especially wet cold weather, sends me into fishing hibernation usually from the holidays until early spring. Perhaps what puts me off this time of year is the childhood memory of warm December afternoons in New Orleans, when I could flip plugs for bass at the golf course ponds near my house wearing a T-shirt and flip-flops.
For my Malaysian buddy Chuck (putting up with the cold in Tokyo has to be even worse. But, like me, he knows a good bite is all that’s necessary to take your mind off everything that isn’t right about the world; never mind how cold your fingers are.
Our four-hour charter passed in a flash as we boated fish after fish. Some folks think this kind of incessant frenzying takes the challenge out of the sport, but there is a skill set to it. The captain takes care of finding the fish, but it’s up to the anglers to figure out what lure to use, where to cast it, which depth range to fish and retrieval speed.
The fluidity of tidal movements and weather can quickly change things such as water clarity, color and temperature, which in turn affects where the fish are holding and how they’re feeding. 
Aside from the fun of fighting and subduing my catch, the coolest thing about fishing is juggling all these factors and figuring out how to entice bites. That’s the “juice” to me and many other anglers. Perhaps we feel like “we get it” –like we’re in touch with the human hunter instinct which people who don’t fish have forgotten about.
Chuck and I hadn’t bothered counting how many sea bass we caught, but our guide reckoned it was more than 100 fish. Although we didn’t happen across any lunkers, we were plenty satisfied with the action. All that was left to do was get a hot bowl of ramen and sort out our next run in Tokyo Bay.
Rain or shine, we’ll be ready.